Use E-book Technology as an Editing Tool



All authors are unique and have developed various ways of producing and editing their work. As a long-time e-book fanatic, I have developed a method of using e-books and e-book readers as an editing tool which speeds up and enhances my editing process.  It only takes minutes to set up, saves a ton of time, and allows me to edit virtually anywhere. It breaks up the process into “identifying issues” and then “fixing issues.” Waiting at the dentist’s office is now an opportunity to edit. Waiting for an oil change is another chance to make progress on my story. Downtime is now productive time, whether I’m in an airport or my easy chair.

I’m sure I’m not the only author who uses this method, although I haven’t heard of anyone else who uses it. I’ll share it with you, and you can decide if this method may yield benefits for the way you work.

I am currently editing the sequel to “Ripper’s Row,” which has a working title of “Ripper’s Revenge.” I just got the manuscript back from my co-author, Shawn Weaver, who has already applied his suggestions and edits. Now it’s my turn to read the story again and smooth it out even further before we send it to our editor, Magnolia Belle, and let her work her magic on it. Some of the Screen shots used are from my horror story, “The Hotel California.”

The story is in pretty decent shape at this point, and what I’m looking for are any inconsistencies, awkward sentences or dialog, spelloids, (my name for proper words used in the wrong context that spell-check won’t catch, like “from” instead of “form,”) and other mistakes that still exist in the manuscript.

The first thing I’m going to do, is quickly create an e-book from the Word document that Shawn sent me. It will take me about three minutes to convert the Word doc to an HTML doc, and using Mobipocket Creator, or Calibre (both free programs) I can turn it into a Kindle e-book and have it on my reading device in short order.

Once on my device, I can start reading and marking up the manuscript. At this point, my goal is NOT to fully edit the story on the reading device, but to make notes and highlights that will call attention to areas in the story that need my attention. Later, I will call these notes and highlights up on my PC where the real editing will take place, only much faster and better now that they have been identified and noted.

Android Touch Screen

Android Touch Screen

As I read the story and find flaws that need work, I have a couple of options. I can either use the “highlight” feature or the “note” feature built into the Kindle app for the reading device. I have also worked out a little system for making my marks on the manuscript that will benefit me later on. For instance, if I run across a comma that should not be there, or a missing comma, I highlight the word before and after where the comma should or should not be. Later, when I see two words highlighted together it means I have a misplaced or missing comma. If I run across an awkward sentence, I highlight the entire sentence. I know that sentence needs further attention. If I run across a “spelloid” I will highlight that single word.

If I find a flaw that requires a creative change, I will make a “note” in the e-book using that built-in feature. For instance, I may run across an inconsistency where I need to make a note like “Change POV,” or “Change Tense.” I will make that note at the beginning of the sentence or paragraph it pertains to. Notes can be short and simple, or can be more involved as in writing out an idea that would improve the story.

Using this method allows me to quickly identify problems and make a quick note if necessary, without breaking my stride in reading the story. This allows me to get a better perspective on how the story “flows” as well as identifying issues. After I have completed my reading and have made all my marks, it’s time to really edit, only faster and easier using e-book technology once again.

When I have finished my reading pass, I now have an e-book that is all marked up. There is now a file on my reading device that holds all of my notes and highlights. I connect my reading device to my laptop, and find all the files related to my e-book, and copy them to the “Kindle Content” folder on my PC.

Here is where my efforts will pay dividends. Now I open my marked-up e-book using the “Kindle for PC” application on my laptop. I open the e-book as if I am going to read it, and all of my notes and highlights are still intact.  With my e-book open, I can go to View on the menu, and click on “Show Notes and Marks.” This will open a pane on the right side of my screen, with a complete list of my notes and marks, and their location within the e-book! Clicking on any of these notes or marks will jump you directly to the e-book page they pertain to.

Kindle App

Kindle App

Now I will open my unedited document in Word, where I will make my changes while keeping the Kindle app open and running as well.

I’m lucky that I have two screens on my computer, so I will open Word on one screen, and the Kindle app on the other. On the Kindle app screen, I will click on a note or mark and identify the change that needs to be made. Using the “search” feature in Word, I will then type in a few words that appear near the note, and use them to find the same location in my Word document.  For instance, if the sentence that needs attention starts with “William ran across…”  then I will type those words into the “search” window and click “find.” Unless I use those same words over and over in my document, Word will take me right where I need to apply my edit. That’s when I make the required change, and then move on to the next note or mark, and then repeat the process. I type in just enough words to find the location in Word, which only takes a second or two.

If you don’t have the luxury of two screens, you can have both apps open and simply re-size the windows so that both apps are visible at the same time. However, I love having two screens, so consider doing that if you can. It really makes a difference in how I work and my productivity.

Dual Screens

Dual Screens

I have described how this process works for me using the Kindle app on my Android touch-screen phone and on my PC, but it should be adaptable to about any reading platform and device.

I have found this method to be very useful for the way I work. It allows me to escape from my “writing chair” for some portion of my work, while allowing me to concentrate on identifying issues in one step, then quickly finding and fixing them in another. Perhaps it will work for you as well.

So, that’s my process. If you happen to see me in an airport messing with my phone, don’t assume I’m playing “Angry Birds.” I might just be editing my next novel.


Big Week for Indie Writers

John Locke

John Locke

In the past week we have learned two significant things concerning the world of publishing; John Locke became the first Indie writer to sell a million ebooks on Amazon, and author J.K. Rowling is set to release her Harry Potter series as ebooks – from her own website!

First to John Locke and a million ebooks. Only eight authors in total have sold a million ebooks on Amazon, and John Locke is the first Indie author to do so. Soon after reaching this milestone, Locke released an ebook titled “How I sold a million eBooks in 5 Months,” for $4.99 on Amazon. (An amazing marketing opportunity, which he acknowledges in the book)

Well, I had to satisfy my curiosity, so I plunked down the $4.99 and purchased the ebook version. (Marketing strategy at work!) About 3 hours later, I had read the entire book. By reading the book, I felt I got to know John Locke a bit. John and I have never met, nor have we ever exchanged any email or gotten connected through social media. Through this book alone, I got a feeling for John’s determination and discovered him to be a very gifted strategist when it comes to selling things.

John describes his plan in detail in this book, and how the plan evolved that allowed him to become the first Indie author to reach this level of success. The main takeaway from this books was that his achievement was not an accident! It was a well thought-out plan, and John executed it with a degree of confidence that allowed him the success he envisioned.

I won’t go into details about the plan. If you are interested, my advice is to buy the book and hear about it from the man who thought it up, experimented with it and then made it successful. However, one of my favorite portions of the book is where John tells about what didn’t work  – and the things he tried prior to putting this plan into place.

I enjoyed this book, which in and of itself is a great marketing tool, and which John acknowledges within the pages. $4.99 will get you the story of how he sold a million ebooks, or $9.99 will get you a paperback copy.

Keep in mind that the title is NOT “How YOU can sell a million ebooks in 5 months.” To do that, you would have to approach the plan with the same determination and marketing savvy as John did. However, I think there is a lot of very useful information in the book, and all self-published authors would do well to put this in their knowledge bank and start collecting interest on it…

In other news relevant to Indie publishing, JK Rowling announced this week that she will be launching a new website called “Pottermore” and will be selling ebook versions of the Harry Potter series, along with other works, directly from her own website.  It is thought that the print publishers may have a small marketing role to play, and that retailers are in talks with the author to assure their e-book formats are covered. Details still yet to come.

JK Rowling

JK Rowling

Now this is really big news. The Harry Potter series has never been available in ebook form, so who knows how many readers new to the series will get involved with the ebook versions? And of course, with a fan base the size of Rowling’s, the possibilities are virtually endless. Just image the traffic that can be generated to a site where the Harry Potter books, much less the world of Potter and Hogwarts will be made available along with new works and other value-added materials?

Apparently, the ebook series will be available in various ebooks formats where customers can purchase and download directly from the site.

I say Kudos to JK Rowling. She has played the game with traditional publishing and has come out a big winner. Now she can leverage that success and see where a super-indie publishing can take this idea. I’m rooting for her, and waiting to see how the story plays out.